The Jets have improved to 2-0 this preseason, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 25 to 17.
While its nice to see a New York victory, it is worth noting that the Bengals were in control of the game, leading 17-3, before they sat their starters. Despite the win, this game showcased some serious issues that may affect the Jets well into the 2014-2015 football year.
The most glaring problem for the Jets is the defensive backfield. Bengals starter Andy Dalton never missed a pass, throwing for 144 yards and 8 completions while carving up the secondary. Mohamed Sanu caught a 43 yard touchdown reception from Dalton, and superstar receiver A.J. Green caught every ball thrown his way, racking up 69 yards on 3 receptions. Antonio Allen seemed to struggle while playing corner, only proving that the Jets need, desperately, a recovered Dee Milliner on the field as soon as possible. With that being said, it’s not fair to put all the blame on Allen, as he received no help at all from his fellow defensive backfield teammates. Not one member of the secondary recorded a pass deflection in the first half.
The Jets passing game was lackluster at best. By the time the first half was over, New York had less than 100 passing yards. Geno Smith threw a costly interception that resulted in a field goal by none other than Mike Nugent (the kicker drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2005 draft). Stephen Hill cost the Jets 10 yards with an unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter, but hauled in a 17 yard reception later on. Can Hill finally break through and become the pass catcher the Jets need? Based on his performance tonight, the answer is, unfortunately, no. Hopefully Eric Decker, who sat this game out, can lift the quality of the Jets’ passing attack when he returns.
After most of the starters called it quits for the night, Mike Vick threw a screen pass to Clyde Gates who scored a 17 yard touchdown. It was impressive, but it did not come against the Bengals’ first team defense.
The Jets finished with 174 team passing yards.
Offensive line play way key for the Jets during their two year stretch of reaching the AFC Championship game. Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are the only starters that remain from that elite unit, but the Jets are hopeful that this years o-line can, once again, become one of the league’s best. Brian Winters, who was recently listed as the starter at left guard, did not do himself any favors tonight, as he recorded two penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct and holding, on back to back plays in the second quarter. It remains to be seen if Winters will hold on to his starting role. Breno Giacomini was flagged for a personal foul in the same quarter, and Willie Colon was called for holding. Let’s see if the offensive line can show more discipline in the regular season.
Penalties were a problem for the team as a whole. The Jets were penalized 12 times, and cost themselves 133 yards in total.
There were, however, some positives for the Jets in this matchup. Geno Smith showcased his ability to scramble in critical situations, rushing for 20 yards, and scoring a touchdown with his legs. One of Geno’s rushes set up a first and goal for New York, which resulted in a 2 yard rushing touchdown for Bilal Powell, who recorded 41 rushing yards on the night. Powell, a personal favorite of this writer, really shined in this contest, averaging 10.3 yards per carry. His role in the offense may lessen when Chris Ivory returns, but this running back by committee approach seems to be clicking, as Jets rushed for 162 yards as a team, with newcomer Chris Johnson contributing 63 rushing yards on 10 carries. Daryl Richardson looked decent with the backups, recording 23 yards of his own.
Demario Davis, who may be poised for a breakout year, recorded a sack/forced fumble in a crucial situation. The Jets were down by 14 at the time. Davis’ forced turnover provided a much needed spark, and helped put the offensive in a position to score, which it did. It was nice to see Quinton Coples hook up with Garrett McIntyre to record a sack on Dalton. The Jets really need Coples to excel as a pass rusher this season.
In the fourth quarter, rookie Ikemefuna Enemkpali blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. As a sixth round pick, Enekpali is fighting for a job. One things for sure, he certainly didn’t hurt his chances of earning a roster spot with that big play.
Ultimately, the victory was sealed when Darin Walls picked off third-stringer Matt Scott. The team has less than a week to prepare for the rival Giants, the two New York teams will face off on Friday, August 22nd. With any luck, the starters will rebound from their dismal performance.